FIRST, AIR MARSHALS WERE TO BE REMOVED, NOW, TRAINING TO BE CUT: TASK FORCE CHAIR ASK WHAT CUTS ARE NEXT

Jul 31, 2003
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC - One day after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reversed course to quell a controversy over its plan to remove air marshals from some flight to save on hotel costs, press reports today indicate that DHS will go forward with plans to cut air marshal training to save money. Concerned about what she calls the "shell game" the agency is playing with funding, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Chair of the Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security, urged Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to make public all plans for homeland security program cutbacks in a letter sent today.
"We need professional, trained air marshals securing every flight, end of story," said Maloney. "One day its taking air marshals off the flights to avoid hotel costs at Motel 6, the next its holding back on training for them to do their jobs, all in the name of cost-cutting. I don't know what to expect next - they'll probably make air marshals fly stand-by.

"It's clear that they are playing a shell game with homeland security programs. It is essential that they tell us which programs are next to be cut. We shouldn't have to wake up one day to find out that airliners, ports, cargo or any other targets are unguarded because they have decided to cut the programs."

DHS's move to cut costs by reducing air marshal training fits a pattern that has come to light in the past couple of days. The Associated Press reported yesterday that last Friday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requested of the Appropriations Committee that it move $104 million for air marshals to other DHS programs. In her letter, Maloney wrote Ridge that she has learned that his agency asked the Appropriations Committee in May to move funding for port security, among other programs.

Maloney said that the evidence that DHS is trying hard to cut money from vital programs makes it necessary to make public all proposed homeland security cuts.

TEXT OF THE LETTER TO RIDGE